2008 CFN UNLV Preview |
2008 UNLV Offense
2008 UNLV Defense
2008 UNLV Depth
2007 UNLV Preview |
2006 CFN UNLV
Preview UNLV's Opening Day Opponent
2008 CFN Utah State Preview
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about Mountain West football?
This should be the year things finally come together. Well,
maybe. If it's possible, UNLV is still rebuilding in the fifth
year of Mike Sanford's reign.
Rebel fans have heard it all before having been teased by the
potential of the John Robinson era and with Sanford the hot
offensive mind coming over from Utah to wreak havoc on the rest
of the Mountain West, but there hasn't been any luck and it's
been a slow process to make any headway.
Head coach: Mike Sanford
4th year: 6-29
Off. 26, Def. 24, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 20
Best UNLV Players
2. WR Ryan Wolfe, Jr.
3. WR Casey Flair, Sr.
4. LB Starr Fuimaono, Jr.
5. S Daryl Forte, Jr.
6. OT Matt Murphy, Soph.
7. OG Joe Hawley, Jr.
8. DE Heivaha Mafi, Jr.
9. DT Jacob Hales, Sr.
10. DT Malo Taumua, Soph.
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 at Utah
Sept. 13 at Arizona State
Sept. 20 Iowa State
Sept. 27 Nevada
Oct. 4 at Colorado State
Oct. 18 Air Force
Oct. 25 at BYU
Nov. 1 TCU
Nov. 8 New Mexico
Nov. 13 Wyoming
Nov. 22 at San Diego State
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2007 Record: 2-10
at Utah State
Wisconsin L 20-13
Hawaii L 49-14
Sept. 22 Utah
Sept. 29 at
Nevada L 27-20
at Air Force
Wyoming L 29-24
TCU L 34-10
New Mexico L 24-6
Step one to run the
Shotgun Spread offense is to get steady quarterback play, which Sanford
has never been able to enjoy with injuries (Rocky Hinds and
Shane Steichen), inability (Jarrod Jackson)
and inexperience (Omar Clayton and Travis Dixon) killing the potential
for any consistency.
Step two is to have the playmakers, and Sanford now has them. If the
receiving tandem of Ryan Wolfe and Casey Flair isn't the best in the
Mountain West, it's not far off. Frank "The Tank" Summers is a good
running back to carry the load from time to time. Step three is to
Everyone else seems to be rocking with the same offense that Sanford
helped evolve, and now it's finally time for the Rebels to get
production. Combine the improved attack with an athletic defense
that should be more disruptive under new
coordinator Dennis Therrell, and the recipe is there for a turnaround.
If it doesn't happen this season, the 2009 storyline will be about the
program starting from square one. This is Sanford's last shot, and he
has his best team yet to show off what he can do.
What to watch for on offense: The running game. With Summers a
pounder of a back that no one wants to deal with, and an improved,
veteran offensive line that's the best Sanford has had by far, the
offense will rely more on running it to take the pressure off the
quarterbacks. At least that's going to be the plan early on.
What to watch for one defense: Selling out. That was the plan
last year and it didn't happen. Therrell is going to bring the house in
an attempt to be more disruptive, and while he might not have the
linebackers to do it early on, he has a good line to work with and a
decent enough secondary to hold its own with the pressure on.
The team will be far better if … it can score. The offense
had a lot of bells and whistles last season, a great receiving corps, a
928-yard back, and two dynamic quarterbacks, but it couldn't put points
on the board. Cranking out more long drives would be nice, but closing
with scores is the whole idea and this offense hasn't been able to do
The Schedule: The Rebels would probably lose to Utah and BYU anyway, so the games
against the two league powerhouses might as well be on the road. That
means Air Force, TCU and New Mexico have to come to Vegas. There are
only two back-to-back road games and they come early against the Utes
and at Arizona State. Winning the opener against Utah State is a must
with non-conference games against the Sun Devils, Iowa State and Nevada,
but there's no reason the Rebels can't sneak away with two wins outside
of league play.
Best Offensive Player:
Frank Summers. It's debatable with receivers like Casey Flair and Ryan
Wolfe in the hunt for all-star honors, but Summers should be the
steadying force who makes the offense go. He can catch as well as run,
and while there are a few decent options behind him, he's the one player
the team can't afford to lose early on.
Best Defensive Player:
Starr Fuimaono. Part safety and part
linebacker, he'll need to be more of a playmaker as a full-time
linebacker. The defense should be good, but linebacker is the one gray
area with heart-and-soul Beau Bell gone. Fuimaono isn't anywhere near
the same player Bell was, but he could be a disruptive force able to use
his speed and athleticism to be all over the field.
Key player to a
QBs Omar Clayton & Travis Dixon. The issue wasn't settled in
spring ball, and Sanford isn't going to deal with a two quarterback
system. They're both better than last year and they can each lead the
offense, but one of them has to take the job by the horns and become the
main man. Every fall practice will be vital to figure it all out.
The season will be a
... the Rebels win five games. The team still needs a year to become a
veteran-laden group ready to challenge the bigger boys, but in the
meantime there has to be more improvement and the wins have to start
coming. There's no time for moral victories. The Rebels have to flirt
with a winning season for Sanford to be around next year.
Oct. 18 vs. Air Force. It's a winnable home game against a team that
does a lot of the same things UNLV does; a loss would be devastating.
Coming out of an off-week, and with BYU, TCU and New Mexico to follow,
this should be the team's best shot to jump-start its Mountain West
2007 Fun Stats:
- First quarter scoring over the last two seasons: Opponents 176 – UNLV
- Red zone touchdowns: Opponents 24 of 42 (57%) - UNLV 15 of 37 (41%)
- Kickoff return average: Opponents 27.8 yards - UNLV 19.7 yards